tv PBS News Hour PBS December 4, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: the white house pressed lawmakers to hold off on new sanctions that could complicate the interim nuclear deal with iran. we talk to the lead u.s. negotiator at the nuclear talks, wendy sherman. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. also ahead, president obama was out making his health-care pitch to young americans today. bua new survey of their politics says they might not be buying in. >> by a margin of about 2 to 1, people believe that the quality of care will actually get worse under the affordable care act. a solid majority disapprove of the act as of today. >> ifill: and the "women of
vision" behind photos of war, poverty, and cultures near and far, showcased as part of the national geographic society's 125th anniversary. >> it is the tougher story about humanity. everything goes back to honoring my subject. i think that the story has to be told. i feel though strongly that these stories need to be seen by the american public. >> ifill: those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations.
and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: tensions in the east china sea hovered over vice president joe biden's visit to beijing today. u.s. officials say he and chinese president xi jinping traded arguments over china's new air defense zone around islands that japan also claims. later, in a subdued session with reporters, neither man mentioned the issue. instead, xi emphasized that diplomacy is needed from both the u.s. and china to maintain regional peace. >> ( translated ): both the international situation and the regional landscape are undergoing profound and complex changes. regional hotspot issues keep popping up, and china and the united states shoulder important responsibilities for upholding
world peace and stability and promoting human development and progress. >> woodruff: the state-run english newspaper "china daily" was far less diplomatic. in a bluntly worded editorial, it accused the u.s. of casting a blind eye to japanese provocations. the editorial went on to say: "despite trying to present the image of being an impartial mediator, washington has obviously taken japan's side." the european commission has imposed fines of $2.3 billion on major u.s. and european banks, over rigging interest rates. today's announcement named j.p. morgan, citigroup and h.s.b.c., among others. they were accused of manipulating european and japanese benchmark rates between 2005 and 2010. the rates affect everything from mortgages to credit card bills. here in the u.s., a bitter cold and snow front pushed across the rocky mountains today. extremely low temperatures dotted the landscape, and with wind chills could reach 30 degrees below zero in parts of
montana. the storm has spread snow across the region, causing treacherous driving conditions that were blamed for at least six deaths. another storm is close on the heels of this one, expected later in the week. the pace of enrollment on the healthcare.gov website is improving some. it was widely reported today that 29,000 people signed up sunday and monday-- the first two days after the mistake-prone site was relaunched. that tops the total for the entire month of october. president obama talked up the law's benefits in washington today, and brushed aside rising disapproval in public polls. >> more people without insurance have gained insurance, more than three million young americans who've been able to stay on their parents' plan, the more than half a million americans and counting who are poised to get coverage starting on january 1, some for the very first time. and it is these numbers, not the ones in any poll, that will
ultimately determine the fate of this law. >> woodruff: republicans said the new numbers on enrollment are cold comfort to millions who've had their coverage canceled or face higher premiums. 9-1-1 phone calls from sandy hook elementary school, during last year's mass shooting, were made public today. the seven recordings revealed police dispatchers in newtown, connecticut, urging callers to take cover, even as gunfire echoed. 20 children and six educators were shot to death by 20-year- old adam lanza. a judge ordered the audio material released under the state's freedom of information law. the suspected gunman in the deadly shooting at los angeles international airport has made his first court appearance. paul ciancia entered no plea today to charges he killed an airport security officer and wounded three other people last month. he was denied bail. the 23-year-old suspect was wounded by police during the attack. in economic news, a survey of
leading corporate chief executives found they're more optimistic and plan to increase hiring. at the same time, growth at service sector companies last month was the weakest since june. the conflicting data left wall street looking for direction. the dow jones industrial average lost almost 25 points to close at 15,889. the nasdaq rose a fraction of a point to close at 4,038. there's word today that the great majority of american silent films are now gone forever. the library of congress reported 70% of the 11,000 feature-length movies have been lost or destroyed. only 14% still exist in their original format. that's due in part to the nitrate film stock, which was especially vulnerable to decay and fire. >> woodruff: still to come on the "newshour": negotiating with iran; the battle over public pensions; a warning of genocide in the central african republic;
capturing war, poverty and culture on camera. plus, how young people view the affordable care act. >> ifill: now, to an insider's look at the interim agreement over iran's nuclear program and the uphill battle facing the obama administration. ever since foreign ministers closed the nuclear deal with iran, ten days ago, the obama administration has been trying to win over a skeptical congress and stave off new sanctions. today, wendy sherman, the lead u.s. negotiator in geneva, held a closed briefing today for members of the house. republican trent franks of arizona is among the lawmakers who have called the agreement a bad deal. >> seems like there's general notion that we're afraid to allow iran to question our sincerity when we should be
questioning theirs. iran has given no concession of any kind for 30 years. and yet we are now taking some of our most powerful inducements off the table. >> ifill: michigan democrat dan kildee was milder in his criticism, but he said the u.s. has to proceed very carefully. >> we have to be very cautious with this state, and very skeptical and realize that the reason that we're in the position we're in right now, is that the sanctions are working, and the sanctions need to be not just seen only as a penalty, but as an inducement to better behavior. >> ifill: under the agreement, a limited number of economic sanctions would be eased for six months. in exchange, iran would agree to neutralize its stockpile of uranium, already enriched to 20%, a big step toward reaching weapons-grade; stop enriching any uranium beyond 5% purity;
stop installing new centrifuges or building new facilities to enrich uranium and grant new and greater access to international inspectors. iran also agreed to halt work at its arak plutonium facility. but democratic and republican lawmakers were unmoved by the iranian concessions, and want to toughen sanctions instead. white house press secretary jay carney argued against that approach yesterday. >> it would make more sense to hold our powder, or keep our powder dry rather until we see whether iran violates the understanding we have reached and act accordingly at that time. if we pass sanctions now even with a deferred trigger, which has been discussed, the iranians and likely our international partners will see us as having negotiated in bad faith and this would have a bearing on our core sanctions architecture. >> ifill: indeed, iranian president hassan rouhani had made clear that his government wants to get rid of all economic punishment permanently.
>> ( translated ): the cruelty with which our people are treated must be lifted. this is our goal; we should dispose of the threats. we will resolve the threats. our goal is to break the sanctions and take them out of the people's way. >> ifill: israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu has been highly and publicly critical of the deal reached in geneva. but some former security chiefs say that negotiations with iran should be pursued. and former israeli prime minister ehud olmert accused netanyahu of, quote, "waging war" on the obama administration. negotiators are expected to meet with iran in vienna next week just as the senate returns to tackle the sanctions issue. for more on the nuclear deal with iran, i'm joined by wendy sherman, the under secretary of state for political affairs. she was the lead negotiator of the agreement. welcome follow newshour again. >> thank you, good to be with you. >> ifill: this nuclear deal that was cut in geneva, will
it hold? >> i think it will holdment because it's in iran's interest for it to hold. iran is looking for some economic relief. there's very little in this agreement that is the first step towards a comprehensive agreement which will give them the economic relief they're looking for. >> ifill: could it have happened without this secret bilateral talks that were happening on the side? we heard about the public ones in geneva. it turns out there were a lot of proof at ones too. >> there were private conversations. and that helped to deepen the conversation. but all of the issues that arose in that private bilateral conversation also rose in the p5 plus 1 an i think very effectively. the p-5 used the bilateral channels and other bilateral discussions that were going on with other partners to get to this agreement. >> ifill: so you worked out was very complicated, temporary first step agreement and come home to washington and find out that a third-- on capitol hill where you spent part of your day today. you are hoping to talk members of congress out of imposing further sanctions.
>> how is that going? >> well, it's a tough road because understandably members of congress have played a very kate call role here. it is, in fact, the sanctions regime that has supported internationally through u.n. security council resolutions, u.s. actions, both in the congress and through the executive branch by the president, by the european union and other nations that has brought iran to the table. because they are looking for sanctions relief. so i understand why the congress believes that more sanctions can only be better. i agree up to a point because that's what brought them to the table. but, in fact, sanctions were meant to change the strategic calculus of iran to come to that negotiating table. now we have to test that resolve to get to an agreement. and any more sanctions at this moment by the u.s. congress would undermine the agreement which calls for a pause by everybody in that regard. and, in fact, might give them an excuse to depart from the agreement that's been made.
>> ifill: but in lifting or easing those sanctions, even for six months, even for a temporary period, don't you lose some leverage. isn't that the argument members of congress are making. >> they made that argument but there fact, the sanctions we are suspend ready quite limited, quite targeted and all reversible. so we lose absolutely no leverage in this regard. and the fundamental architecture around banking and oil sanctions that we have, that the european union has, all remain in place. so what iran really wants isn't available to them unless we get to a comprehensive agreement that we can agree to. >> ifill: what iran really wants in part is to continue enriching in some fashion, whatever you believe, nuclear enrichment. does this deal stop that? >> well, this deal doesn't stop it in the first step because it is just a suspension. but it does stop all of the enrichment over 5%. and that's very important. because the higher you get up on the scale the more quickly you can get to
weapons grade uranium which is needed for fis il material for a nuclear weapon. so now they can't enrich over 5%, even in this first step. but the fact remains that we've also said in this agreement that when we get to a comprehensive agreement, we would consider a limited, modest enrichment program if it is attached to real, practical needs and if, in fact, they agree to all the monitoring and all of the intrusive verification that is needed on limited the scope, the capacity, of the stockpiles and everything that they do. >> ifill: so some of that monitoring starts this weekendment but you believe, just as fact, that there is a plausible, civilian use for nuclear enrichment? >> there may be. but this is all part of the comprehensive agreement which we will begin to negotiate very quickly. and, indeed, if we cannot get the kinds of agreement we need, the kinds of limitations we need, then there will not be an
agreement and we will revert to where we are with these sanctions, additional sanctions and the u.n. security resolutions which are quite critical and must be addressed before any final agreement is reached. >> how close would you say iran is to being able to develop a nuclear weapon right now if they weren't under this pause? >> well, i think there are in2e8 against assessments which i can't share with the audience. but publicly many analysts have said that if the supreme leader decided today and he is the only one who makes these decisions in the final analysis, if they decided today t would probably be-- be at least a year away before they had a nuclear weapon. and of course they not on have to build the weapon but a delivery system to carry it. >> ifill: does it still allow u.n. inspectors, international inspectors access to military bases where they might have evidence to support this? >> well, indeed, this is probably an extraordinary intrusive monitoring regime that was put in place even with this first step. there will be daily inspectors at the two
enrichment facilities. there will be at least monthly access to iraq, the plutonium reactor they are trying to build that we have halted any advance on, even this first step. there will be managed access to uranium mines and mills, to centrifuge production. things we have never, ever had before. that will help us to make sure that they cannot divert things. they cannot have a covert program. and it will give us great insight into what they are doing. these are all firsts that we have never had before. >> ifill: is it fair to say that as difficult as it was getting to this first step, as you call it, that it will be ten times as difficult getting to the next one? >> i think getting to a comprehensive agreement will be very, very difficult. >> ifill: does it include full dismantling. >> this includes a lot of dismantling of their infrastructure because, quite frankly, we're not sure what you need-- a 40 watt heavy megawatt react for any civilian peaceful purpose. and at the end of the day
what is critical here is that the international community, and the united states of america must have full confidence that iran truly has a peaceful program. >> ifill: you know who does not have that confidence that would be israel. >> indeed. >> ifill: and what are you saying to them in this interim. are they also the subject of secret bilateral mollifications. >> it's not secret. we talked to the israelis all of the time as we do to all of our partners and allies, in the gulf, who have a lot of interest of what is happen there because they care about what is happening in the the region and geo political consequences regarding iran. but on the nuclear deal, israel, the united states and all the gulf states share the same objective, iran will not, cannot, should not have a nuclear weapon. the president has been very clear that he will stop that from happening. so we agree on the objective. tactically, we may disagree from time to time. >> ifill: from time to time. is part of that objective also normallization eventually with iran. relationships that is? >> i think we are a long way
off fromment that. i know "the wall street journal" op ed that was written by secretary kissinger and schultz, which laid out three objectives going to the future, one was a limited capacity in iran for a civil nuclear program with severe limits that could give confidence to the international community. they also talked about where we might head with iran in terms of a relationship with them going forwardment but i think that's many years off. >> ifill: far down the road. wendy scherrman, undersecretary for political affairs and lead negotiator in the iran talk, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you, gwen. >> woodruff: tuesday's decisions in detroit and illinois put a dramatic spotlight on public workers' pensions and why they're under increasing pressure in states and cities facing huge debt problems. the fights are charged with more
skirmishes to come in court, but this week's action may be changing the landscape. the battle over the public employee pension crunch in illinois-- the nation's worst-- came to a head yesterday, as state lawmakers voted to eliminate a $100 billion unfunded liability. it passed with bipartisan support, although the votes were close, and some were more enthusiastic than others. >> i think it's a win-win and the excuses i'm hearing from people who don't want to support it don't add up to me. >> this is hard for a lot of people in our state so it's not something that i feel joy about. >> woodruff: the measure cuts cost-of-living increases for current and future retirees and raises the retirement age for those under 45. many aren't happy about it. >> when you've been employed by the state for 20 years and you're counting on your benefits
being "x" and there is a possibility that that nest egg that you've been counting on is going to be reduced as a result of pension reform it's a bit daunting. >> woodruff: governor pat quinn, a democrat, says he will sign the bill, but leaders of public employee unions say they will sue. >> we think this is the triumph of politics over the rule of law and therefore we will be in court. >> woodruff: illinois is following in the footsteps of rhode island, which overhauled its pension laws in 2011 to reduce benefits. and bankrupt cities are moving to curb pension plans as well. a federal judge cleared the way yesterday for detroit's bankruptcy to go forward. the city's emergency manager, kevyn orr, promised a thoughtful and measured approach. >> approximately 40% of every dollar that the city takes in the general fund goes to paying legacy debts, pension obligations, some of which are unfunded, or debt.
that's just not sustainable because in the next three to four years, that number's going to go to almost 65%, almost two- thirds. >> woodruff: the ruling could have implications elsewhere, especially california; stockton and san bernardino may tackle pension costs as part of their bankruptcy proceedings. we tackle the question now of whether these pension obligations should be targeted for cuts and if so, how they should be handled. steven kreisberg is the director of collective bargaining and health care policy with afscme, the american federation of state, county and muncipal employees. the union is appealing the judge's decision in detroit. and andrew g. biggs is a resident scholar at the american enterprise institute. he served as the principal deputy commissioner of the social security administration under george w. bush. welcome to you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: steven kreisberg, to you first. the basic question here i
think is should public employees who have done their time working for the government, are now retired, be subject to any kind of cuts when the city or the state they work for is facing terrible fiscal crisis, and an underfunded pension fund? >> well, the underfunding of these pension funds has nothing to do with the workers. the workers, as you have said, have served their city. they put in their time. they've done the services that they've been paid to provide. the pension is a form of deferred compensation. so typically when people do the service, they get paid. you know, becoming a deadbeat on a pension as the city of detroit is proposing to do is not consistent with the values, i think, of just about anybody in america. so it's really not a case where the workers who are now retired are seeking something to which they are not entitled. the pension isn't provided as a gift, it's provided in compensation for service previously provided. >> woodruff: what about this argument that these workers are entitled to this they
put their own money into t and it's breaking faith, in fact, not to give them what they said they were going to get. >> i don't think you want to take an all or nothing approach. it would be irresponsible, it would be unfair to treat retirees in a place like detroit or california cities the same way you would treat bondholders who are all going to get pennies back on the dollar for their investments. at the same time, though, the cities and states need flexibility to make changes. it shouldn't mean drastic cuts to current retirees, but it should mean the ability to change the way the benefits are earned going forward so that you can get on top of these problems. >> woodruff: let's just take a piece of that, steven kreisberg, basically what he's saying is we're not talking about completely dismaenlting these pensions but we're talking about, i think you suggest, andrew biggs, reasonable adjustments. when the entire city or state is having a pay cut. >> i think what an grew is talking about is adjustment on an ongoing basis. in the cities of detroit we
agreed almost two years ago to such adjustments. we would earn less pension benefits going forward. but what andrew did not suggest and what the city of detroit is doing and what the state of illinois is doing is taking away benefits that have already been earned. you don't allow that in the private sector. we have a law called alisa which is retirement income security act and it protects employeesment we have no such protections in the public sector. ironically, because we thought they would never be necessary. >> woodruff: what about that, that this is something different, that detroit and the state of illinois are looking at. >> oh, sure, this is completely different. detroit is in bankruptcy because they cannot service its debts. some of the biggest obligations it has are to retirees through pensions or to retiree health benefits. so they need some way to make their finances viable. >> rooney: . >> woodruff: are you saying that is warranted in these case ms. ? >> the judge in the detroit bankruptcy case said yes t is warranted. these should be on the table. they are contractual obligations but bankruptcies is a time when contracts be
changed to make the city more financially viable going forward. steve is right. the private pensioneds, you're not a you looed to renege on past benefits. at the same time though f a company goes bankrupt there are at least some reduction made to pension benefits. so i think things need to again be seen not in an all or nothing approach. we can slash benefits but modest adjustments and especially changes going forward, i think, are needed to get things back on a better track. >> woodruff: why aren't then moderate adjustments in situations like what we're talking about, in a city like detroit, a state like illinois and other municipalities that are facing this, why isn't an adjustment that is moderate reasonable something that employees can accept? >> well, i think first of all detroit and illinois are two very, very different circumstances. illinois is the state with the fifth highest gdp, gross domestic state product it has very high levels of income it is not an
impoverished state at all, by any stretch of the imagination. detroit is a troubled city. it's lost tremendous employment. it's been disproportionately affect by nafta and the auto industry, it's lost population. and they are two radically different cases am but still, to your question, moderate adjustments, and the question of moderate adjustments is in the eye of the beholder. the average retiree-- retiree in detroit is $19,000 it that is the averagement there are many with $12,000 a year pensions. so if we're talking about moderate adjustments, are you saying $10, are you saying $100 a month? well, the emergency manage never detroit is talking about 16 cents on the dollar. is that a moderate adjustment. we say not. in the state of illinois it is a completely different circumstances. this is a state that the very same day voted to take away retiree's pension benefits an cut those benefits, adopted a multimillion dollar tax cut for multinational corporation within that state. so the state is not impoverished. the state is choosing priorities that are different than the citizens have chosen by adopting a
constitutional protection of pension benefits. >> woodruff: andrew biggs what about that, and what about the bigger picture here, that the blame, that if there is going to be pain, the pain should be spread, that it shouldn't be mainly or even in large part these people who have worked so hard for these cities. >> uh-huh. i suspect in the case of detroit, it's not going to be mainly or in large part on the pensioners, it going to be mostly on the bondholders who are going to get hit much more. i mean steve is right when he cites the average benefits people receive from pensions. that includes a lot of people who spent a few years in public employment and are getting very small benefits. if you are somebody who spent a full career working for the city of detroit, you would retire with a benefit equal of around two-thirds your final salary. would you have a 401(k), on which the city guaranteed you 8% returns. would you have your social security benefits on top of that. you would have people retiring at age 60 with a benefit equal to 100% or more of their final salary, not many private sector workers get that. so i'm not saying the
impoverished should be thrown out into the street. but we, i think reasonable changes here to have some parody in terms of the treatment. >> woodruff: how do you respond? >> well, i think the facts are incorrect. the average wage of the current workforce is about $37,000 in the bargaining units so even at a two-thirds replacement rate we are talking about something far below what is adequate. in addition to that that is the average current wage. so we have retirees who retired, and their wages were maybe 23, 24,000 a year. so we're seeing a place probably closer to 50% or 40% in a lot of cases as well. so its idea that there is a lot of short timers distorting that average say mathematical number we can debate but the real question is what are the values, is it morally right to cut people's pension. unlike corporations and banks, the retiree doesn't have the opportunity to restructure and reorganize their finances. they can't hire $800 an hour lawyers to do that for them
so they are struggling to put food on the table, prescription medicines in their bodies to keep them alive. and these are tough choices for them now that their income will be cut by maybe half or more. >> woodruff: within 20 seconds, how do you respond to that? >> well, again, it's going to depend, and the judge in the bankruptcy case made very clear, it is going to depend on the specifics of what the city manager comes back with in detroit. he says you-- pensions are on the table. you're to the going to get anything you necessarily ask for. so i think they're going to have to come back with something that tries to address the concerns steve has. but also says how do we make these cities viable going forward. it's-- detroit is an explicit bankruptcy. other cities around the country are facing increasing pressure. >> woodruff: andrew biggs, steven kreisberg, we thank you both. >> thank you for having me. >> thank you. >> ifill: tomorrow the united nations security council will vote on sending forces into the central african republic, where
12 more civilians were killed in fighting today. the french have already dispatched more than 600 soldiers into the troubled nation, with more on the way. the c.a.r. has fallen into chaos since rebels seized control of the capital last spring. we have a report from alex thompson of "independent television news." a warning some images may be disturbing to some viewers. >> tomorrow the united nations votes for what they pray here will be a robust peacekeeping, that is urgently needed. in the capitol bangui the french army presence is beefing up but they will need more transport planes. the country is descending rapidly into violent chaos. we flew west this morning it seemed wise-- they killed 15 people on the road just yesterday. as we land, soldiers from
the african u.n. force stand guard. it's near silent. tense. these men say the seleka engage them daley. ef remain needs security. minutes later sudden urgency. the red cross payload, 16 people with gunshot wounds, mostly women and children. like this three-year-old. the casualties are taken to what passes for the hospital. and we learn more about the little child shot through the put okays between the gunmen and the militia. they describe how three other children were killed and his wife. he says, is all i have left. on the bed next door, another, unsmiling
traumatized child casualty. what does life hold in the central african republic for a little girl whose right arm has been shot off. for lesley, everything about life has now changed. and you do not have to go far to see where the violence is happening. the village, or what is left of it, is just a few miles north. cooking in a burned out shell. seleka gunman heard a rumor that this was an opposition village. they came, looted, shot the place up. and burned much of it to the ground. hundreds are still out there in the bush, they say, too terrified to come home. so what security do you have here now? who can protect you? >> we don't have any
security here. >> no police, no army? >> no police, no army, only seleka people that come here. >> every week more and more villages like this are appearing across this country. and the united nations is already speaking of the potential for genocide here. if nothing is done, it seems pretty plain, this country will become another disaster zone like congo, like sudan or like somalia. but on this occasion, for once, just possibly, they have the chance to intervene if it takes decisive action and takes it fast. this week could mark the beginning of that decisive action. but how long until anyone on the ground here really feels any safer. >> you can learn more about the humanitarian crisis plaguing the central african republic on our world page.
>> woodruff: what is it like and what does it take to capture the world with a camera? jeffrey brown has our look at a group of women of vision. >> brown: two boys chasing a kite through the rubble of an anti-government stronghold near yemen's border. a herder in norway chanting while tending his reindeer. a full moon hanging above the highway to mount st. helen's. three of the 100 photographs depicting cultures far-flung and close to home in an exhibition titled, "women of vision: national geographic photographers on assignment," part of the society's 125th anniversary celebration. it showcases 11 women, from veterans of the magazine to several who've completed just a few projects. one of the best known is 39- year-old lynsay addario, a pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent who's covered conflicts from iraq and
afghanistan to darfur and congo for national geographic and the new york times. >> i go in because i think the story has to be told. like any journalist who dedicates their life to covering conflict. i feel very strongly that these stories need to be seen by the american public. >> brown: part of that coverage: capturing the daily life that somehow goes on amid violence. >> that fascinates me. as sort of someone who is in the middle of the place, i want to bring a different perspective to the person outside and let them see, yes, there are daily car bombs, there are people dying, but at the same time, there is peace going on and there is daily life continuing. >> brown: and is there a moment when you know you've got it somehow. >> there's an initial moment when i'm in sheer panic, where i'm trying to figure out how i'm going to tell a story. and then as i become more familiar with it, i understand how i think-what i think the
poignant moments are and what the most important moments are. and generally i get to a point where i feel comfortable. and i'm never satisfied, but i at least feel like i have a good grasp on how to tell that story. >> brown: 43-year-old amy ton- sing has focused on individuals and small communities in her 14 assignments for national geographic: communities around the globe: puerto rico; the jersey shore; australia's aborigines; just >> my job is to tell stories about humanity. and in order to tell stories, you have to know your subject. and everything goes back to honoring my subject. >> brown: toensing researches her subjects through current events and history, but also through novels. >> because novels speak on a very visceral level. they speak on a more sort of emotional, lyrical level. and i think that's how photography works as well. so when i'm about to go in the field someplace i love to read novels about a place. that can really help kind of get my mind going about what's going to work for the visual translation of telling the story.
>> brown: in 2008 she was assigned to look at the impact of climate change and drought in the murray darling basin, in southeastern australia. her way in: find a local farm family and look through their eyes. >> i slept in a room in their house for probably about a week. and in this picture, i'm along for the ride. and so i'm like, all right, chasing pigs, i'm with you. and then there's a picture. and really that picture, obviously it's not about pigs, but it's... >> brown: and it's not necessarily about drought either, right? i mean, if i just look at the photograph. >> no, it's not about drought, it's about people. >> brown: at 26, kitra cahana is the youngest of the photographers in this exhibition. her first feature assignment for the magazine was about the teenage brain and behavior: in an austin, texas high school, she found a girl's face reflected in the mirror of her parents' truck; girls getting
their tongues pierced; boys taking video of a boxing match to post on facebook. at the time cahana was just four years older than some of subjects she spent months getting to know. were you talking photos all the way through? or when do you start? >> i think you start as soon as you develop a relationship with someone and they let you in, into their lives. slowly over the course of the assignment, i didn't have to go to classes anymore or sit in the lunchroom because someone would text me and say, "we're skipping school today, do you want to come?" or "we're going to this party, you want to come?" and it was really about having the time to slowly uncover, not the secret lives, but the personal lives of teenagers. >> brown: i asked cahana, amid this exhibition of women photographers, how being a woman impacts her work. >> sometimes because i'm a woman-- i mean, all kinds of situations-- i'm seen less as a threat. they'll think, "oh, that's the
face of the quiet kind person, not the face of a national geographic, the media." >> brown: lynsey addario told us she's had an advantage as a woman working in the segregated society of the muslim world, where she could see and capture a home life largely off-limits to her male counterparts. addario was kidnapped in 2004 in iraq and then again in 2011 in libya, where she and three male colleagues at the "new york times" were held captive by pro- qaddafi forces for six days before being released. some times readers were outraged at the paper. "how could the 'new york times'"-- i'm quoting what you were reading-- "how could the 'new york times' let a woman go to a war zone?" you said you found that grossly offensive. >> i did find it really offensive. i still find it offensive today, because i think that this is my life. i have very set reasons for doing what i do, and i think
that if i want to dedicate my life to covering war, that's my prerogative. why should my gender affect what i do? if i'm capable of doing the same job as a man, why should it matter if i'm a woman? >> brown: as to whether a this showcase of women photographers is in washington through march and then at venues across the country for the next three years. >> woodruff: you can see more of these arresting photos from all 11 photographers. that's on art beat. >> ifill: we'll be back shortly with a new study that shows young people are not buying into the affordable care act. but first: we are taking a short break to allow your public television station to ask for your support. and that support helps keep programs like ours on the air.
>> woodruff: for those stations not taking a pledge break, we have a story that first aired in september on the "pbs newshour" weekend. rick karr looks at new ways to fund critical infrastructures. >> portland, oregon, is at the vanguard of the war to reduce gasoline consumption. you can find evidence all over its downtown area, and at its car dealerships. >> we're looking at hybrids, plug in hybrid, electric cars. there are some hyperefficient diesel engines. >> oregon representative earl blumenhaur constituents have been more enthusiastic buyers of green cars than people anywhere else in the country. but drivers across the u.s. are catching up. and over the next 12 years every new car will become more fuel efficient thanks to an agreement that president obama struck with 13 automakers including detroit's big three. >> the companies here today have endorsed our plan to
continue increasing the mileage on their cars and trucks over the next 15 years. >> mileage targets for passenger cars will increase by two-thirds from about 30 miles per gallon this year to nearly 55 mpg there 2025. which means americans will be able to keep cutting back on their purchases at the pump. and that's where the bad news in this story starts. by definition, more efficient cars use less gas. when drivers buy less gas state and federal governments collect less in gas taxes. but those gas taxes, the federal levy of around 18 cents a gallon in taxes by the state of around 8 and 50 cents a gallon, they pay to maintain highways and bridges across the country. and that's already a huge problem. we begin tonight with that terrifying bridge collapse. >> reporter: take for example the news that broke in may when an interstate 5 bridge collapsed a couple
hundred miles north of portland. by next year the federal highway trust fund, the source of almost all the funding for bridges and roads that comes from washington will go bust. >> the bottom line is that we are in a downward spiral. what it means is the federal government is not going to be able to help states and locallities maintain what they've got. it means that people will pay with less safe driving conditions. >> does the gas tax generate enough revenue for the state of oregon to maintain its roads properly? >> no. just plain no. >> vicky say republican member of the oregon house. she says as the state's residents buy even more efficient cars and less gas, the budget crunch is only going get worse. but she thinks there may be a solution. instead of having oregon motorists pay a 30 cent tax on every gallon of gas they buy, have them pay a fee of a pen or or two for every mile they drive. it's known as a vehicle miles traveled or vmt fee. oregon was the first state
in the union to impose a gas tax nearly a century ago. and in 2006 it set up an experiment to see whether it might be able to lead the nation again. 300 volunteers let the state hook up computers and transmitters to their cars so that their mileage in, organize could be tracked with a gps, global positioning system. the technology worked just fine but the civil libertarians and privacy advocates thought the gps would give big brother a chance to snoop on drivers. legislators in oregon state house decided that the whole idea was political poison. and for the next five years it completely faded out of view. until the oregon department of transportation ran a new experiment late last year. this time participants had a range of choices. they could let their smart phones track their movements. install gps units that sent data to a private firm instead of the government. or use a device that recorded only how many miles
they drove but not where they drove. that's what vicki chose for her car. every month the unit transmitted her mileage count to the state dot which then sent her an invoice. >> from a tax policy point of view, this was really interesting to me because when i go to the pump i am filling my car with gas, i'm not thinking about the taxes i'm paying and i'm paying both federal and state. when you get a bill in the mail, you think about the taxes that you are paying. and that does put a wake in the sense of oh, i'm paying a tax here for the privilege of using the roads. which i don't think people think about when they just fill their tank. >> reporter: but skeptics think administering a program like that would create a bureaucratic mess. and they say taxing fuel efficient cars sends an anti-green message. charging hybrids more than hummers. >> you are reduce the incentive for people to shift to fuel efficient cars. >> a democratic political consultant and blogger based in portland --
>> gas tax is a great incentive to get folks into fuel efficient cars to put less carbon into the atmosphere by going a tax that hits plug ins and electrics and high mileage cars, we're reducing that incentive. >> but what do we do? the national highway trust fund is nearly broke. the amount of revenue gathered on the state and federal level from the gas tax is declining like crazy and at the same time we have bridges that are falling part. we have roads that are crumbling. what is the alternative? >> the first thing i would do, if i were king of the world, is raise the gas tax and then index it to inflation over time. >> in other words, the gas tax would automatically rise at the rate of inflation. supporters 6 mileage fees argue that legislators lack the political women to raise gas taxes. so they say state and federal governments need another plan to pay for critical repairs to roads and bridges. last month oregon passed a law expanding the mileage fee program starting in
2015. this time to 5,000 vehicles. meanwhile, portland a democratic u.s. representativive is looking for a republican cosponsor for a bill that would test the fees nationally. >> i want to take that rig and experience-- that oregon experience and move it to the national level. where states can apply to test it in their own location. so that road users can understand how it works, what the advantages are. and make it less mysterious. >> since this report first aired >> ifill: since this report first aired, congressman blumenauer introduced two bills in the house this week, to test mileage fees and nearly double the federal gas tax, both without a republican co-sponsor. >> woodruff: finally tonight, president obama made an appeal to young people today to enroll in health insurance exchanges to help the affordable care act
succeed. he urged them to think of the consequences of not being covered. >> sometimes in this debate, what we've heard are people saying, "well, i don't need this. i don't want this. you know, why are you impinging on my freedom to do whatever i want?" and, part of what i say to folks when they tell me that is, if you get sick and you get sent to the hospital and you don't have any coverage, then somebody else is also going to be paying for it. >> woodruff: the president made his pitch as a new survey from harvard university reveals that, as of a month ago, the 18- to 29-year-old generation was skeptical of the affordable care act. fewer than 40% said they approved of the law; more than 56% disapproved. the poll also found mr. obama to be at his lowest approval rating since taking office.
john della volpe is director of polling at the institute of politics at harvard and is here to discuss the findings. , john, welcome back to the program. so you found these numbers there polling of just about a month ago. tell us what the numbers were when it came to the affordable care act? >> so overall, judy, we found that by a margin of about two-to-one young people believe that the quality of care will actually get worse under the affordable care act. by a margin of five to one they believe that costs will increase. and as you said a moment ago, a solid majority disapprove of the act as of today. >> woodruff: and what did you find-- so pretty significantly overwhelming disapproval. what did you find along partisan line, democrats, republicans, independents? >> a great question. essentially 95 out of 100 republicans disapprove of the obamacare or affordable care act. we actually at half of our
polling a thousand people about questions related to at fordable care ago. the other half about obamacare. essentially the numbers are about the same. and democrats were significantly more likely to support. >> woodruff: any greater sense of why people, why these young people feel so strongly? >> yeah, there was-- we're not actually too surprised by this. for the last several cycles that we've polled, we've seen the overall level of trust between young people and the powers within washington, d.c. whether the administration, republicans, democrats in congress, actually kind of lose trust every single day. so number one, coming out of washington, d.c. would have a lard time getting traction among millennials. also when you take a step back. when you think about the messages that millennials have been hearing, it is less about them, the benefits to them. it is more about it is necessary for them to join in order to compensate for older, sicker americans. so i don't think the narrative has been
particularly terrific when it comes to connecting with millennials about the benefits that they would have enjoying one of these exchanges. >> woodruff: we're-- what percentage said they would enroll in an exchange among those who were not insured? >> well, among ot 22% of millennials who are not insured today, less than a third, about 29% said they will definitely or probably enroll. you have about 41% or so who are in the middle, on the fence. i think hoping to listen to the president over the next couple of weeks. and then you v of course, the remainer who said they won't enroll under any circumstances. >> woodruff: an what about support for the president overall. we were saying a minute ago it is that too has dropped. what did you find there? >> well, remember, millennials were the outliers, one of two significant groups that helped elect the president and re-elect him in 2012. up until the last year or so, they've been outliars. over the course of our last two surveys they've actually fallen quite neatly with the rest of america, looking a
lot like their older brothers and sisters. we've seen that frankly that the president's approval rating has decreased by about 11 points across-the-board over the last year. significantly 15 points among women, 9 points among men. even among-- approval under 50%. >> and what do they say about the congress which we know is also seeing its approval ratings drop? >> unfortunately, those numbers are bad and getting worse. democrats in congress continue to fall and republicans in congress only 19% of all,-- of young americans under the age of 230 believe they're doing a good job or approve of the job that they're doing in washington d.c. so as bad of a day this might be for the president and those who care about the affordable care act, it's not any better for republicans in congress. >> woodruff: john, finally, i want to ask you about something i found fascinating in this poll, and that is young people's view of their student loan debt burden. it is striking to me because
it didn't seem to always be affected by what political party they say they belonged to. >> well, that's the thing. if the president and members of congress want to reconnect with young people, this is the issue to do that, to build some of that support. economic issues specifically issues related to student debt is one issue that democrat, republicans, they can all agree on. 57% say it is a major problem. majority of the people from both parties think it's a national priority that needs to be set selled right away. >> woodruff: and just quickly, is that something that has gotten worse over time, how do you see that? >> we haven't tracked that particular question, judy over time. but we have seen especially for the millennials who are under 25, this increase,, and for good reason on economic issues. so we have seen 90, almost 90% of young people in community colleges are impacted by the financial situation. these are people who wanted to go to four year colleges, who had to make a different choice, attend a two year or community college instead. so that's impacting millions
of young people across america. >> john della volpe director of polling at the harvard institute of politics, thank you. >> thanks, judy. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day: the president sent his top iran negotiator to the capitol, warning tehran might walk away from an interim nuclear deal, if congress imposes new sanctions. vice president biden had a tense session with china's president in beijing, over china's new air defense zone around disputed islands. and the "washington post" reported the national security agency collects roughly five billion records a day on the location of cell phones worldwide, based on documents leaked by former n.s.a. contractor edward snowden. >> woodruff: on the "newshour" online right now, archaeologists have discovered that we're all mutts. new tests on the oldest-known human d.n.a. reveal that homo sapiens have more ancestors than
we had previously thought. read about that on our science page. all that and more is on our website newshour.pbs.org. >> ifill: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, fast-food workers plan strikes in 100 cities across the country to protest low-wages. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the "pbs newshour," thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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>> this is bbc world news america reporting from washington. biden gets a warm welcome in beijing, but he doesn't get on a to back down territorial dispute. relations tonight are tense. hundreds of thousands of people are running away from central african republic. we are on the ground in a country descending into chaos. >> they killed my father, he says and took his body. i don't know what will happen to me now. >> this cougar has made a